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    Posted March 12, 2011 by
    Mount Fuji, Japan
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Travel snapshots: Otherworldly landscapes

    More from JoyfulGypsy

    Mt Fuji Walking Stick, My Favorite Travel Souvenir


    Assignment - Travel Snapshots:  Souvenirs


    Sure, we can always walk into a souvenir shop and buy a silly nicknack to take home on our travels and yes, I have tons of such souvenirs - from refrigerator magnets, Mexican pottery, Belgian lace, Hawiian wishing pearls, Mount St Helens rocks, a cast iron replica of Big Ben (with an actual bell),  African tribal masks, jewelry made of elephant hair, etc., etc.  (If I have time, I'll post a few of those... ) All are nice to keep and treasure, but THIS souvenir is special to me.  THIS souvenir was earned...!


    In the summer of 2006, my husband and I climbed to the summit of Mount Fuji, Japan.  With the thin air at high altitude, torrential thunderstorms, and freezing temperatures approaching the summit, it was not an easy task but it was an incredible experience we shared together and one we will never forget.


    For 1000 Yen (about $10), the indispensable walking stick - complete with Japanese flag and "anti-bear bells" (hence the absence of bear attacks) provided both physical and moral support for the ordeal.


    As we worked our way up the steep, crumbling mountain, we earned the right to get a "chop," or stamp branded into the stick with a hot iron at various stations on the way up, to prove we had made it at least that far.  In addition to the exhausting legwork, earning this right cost us 200 Yen [$2] per chop.)


    I'll admit that more than once the only thing that kept me going was the prospect of returning home without a completed set of stamps on my stick.  There was no way was going to let that happen!  I would crawl my way to the top, if I had to!


    If you are one of the lucky that plans the climb out just right so that you make it to the summit on time to watch the sun rise high above the clouds, you can get the rare and coveted "sunrise stamp" seen in the first picture.


    Of the many travel souvenirs I have picked up through the years, my Mount Fuji walking stick is my favorite and most meaningful.  Silly?  Perhaps.


    •  Attached are a few photos of some of the 25 stamps branded on my Mount Fuji walking stick.


    Lulis Leal

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